Tag Archives: Destination America

Paige, the Limits of Good Taste, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

We got a really good show this week that was heavy on in-ring action. That’s not a coincidence, folks. Better wrestling equals a better product. In a season where ratings have been on a downhill slide, WWE might want to make note of that.

What’s more, we got the girls in the main event segment for the first time in what must have been over a decade. That’s fantastic. But it might have come with a certain price…

Paige, Charlotte, Raw, November 16, 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Charlotte and Paige main event the show with a contract signing. The death of Reid Fleihr is incorporated into the storyline. In terms of everything leading up to the Reid thing, the segment came off very scripted, especially on Charlotte’s part. I don’t doubt that the tears she shed out there were real. But the dialogue didn’t seem genuine. There were also a few uncomfortable silences, during which I wasn’t sure if Charlotte couldn’t remember her lines, or if she was pausing for effect.

Then Paige said the line about Reid “not having much fight in him.”

Quick history lesson: Reid Fleihr, son of the real life Richard Fleihr (Ric Flair) and brother of Ashley Fleihr (Charlotte), was a prospective wrestler who died of a drug overdose in March of 2013. Poor Ric actually found his son’s body.

Paige, Charlotte, fight, Raw, November 16, 2015Needless to say, this is a sensitive subject. Fans are already crying foul over this. It certainly skirted the limits of good taste. Personally, I don’t think what Paige said was reprehensible. From a story perspective, it gives us very personal connection to Charlotte. We’re now much more invested in this story.

But did they need to play the Reid card? No, of course not. You never need to exploit a real person’s death for a pro wrestling storyline. But they did it. They can’t undo it. So now let’s just hope they don’t stir it up any more.

The Undertaker & Kane to face two members of The Wyatt Family at Survivor Series. More mind games are played on Raw. I can understand why they’d want ‘Taker and Kane by themselves at Survivor Series, but that doesn’t make this decision any less disappointing. The idea of The Undertaker captaining his own four-man Survivor Series team at the 25th anniversary of his WWE debut made for an intriguing selling point. But a straight-up tag match? That’s a downgrade any way you slice it.

Undertaker druids, Raw, November 16, 2015As for Raw, the moment with the moment with the druids and the sheep masks was cool. Most of the mic work was nothing special. I did, however, like Bray Wyatt’s line about a new army of darkness rising at Survivor Series. I don’t know how big a “money match” this is, but that was a money line right there.

Roman Reigns def. Cesaro to advance in the WWE Title Tournament. The crowd seemed really split during this match. It was almost like something you’d expect from a John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan kind of encounter. The older, “smart” fans were rooting for Cesaro, but the kids were cheering for Reigns.

The winner of this match was obvious from the get-go. It was always going to be Reigns going to the finals, and potentially winning the whole damn thing. So that took a bit of the edge off what could easily have been the main event for this week’s show. But it was still a good performance, as Cesaro once again shows us just how damn special he is. I take nothing away from Reigns, as it obviously takes two to tango. But c’mon now…

The idea behind the Reigns promo, and the amount of punishment he took in that match, was to build sympathy for him as an underdog of sorts who hung in there against a machine like Cesaro. However, here’s my question: Does that story work when half the crowd is rooting for the Cesaro to crush the so-called underdog?

Neville, Kevin Owens, Raw, November 16, 2015Kevin Owens def. Neville to advance in the WWE Title Tournament. I’d argue this was one of the best, if not the best outing for both Kevin Owens and Neville on television. Neville’s athleticism was highlighted wonderfully. That reverse headscissors spot was obviously great, as was the turnbuckle bump into the snap German suplex. But I also enjoyed Neville doing something as simple as slowly sliding down the ropes and off the apron when he took that super kick from Owens.

On that subject, WWE really needs to tell their guys to lighten up on the super kicks. Now that Shawn Michaels has been retired for awhile, it’s apparently open season on that move. And it’s not even being used as a finisher.

Kalisto pins Ryback on Smackdown to advance in WWE Title Tournament, loses to Alberto Del Rio on Raw. This is funny, because to me this Kalisto thing is what WWE should have done to begin with if they wanted a new Hispanic star. They didn’t need to shill out a bunch of money to get Del Rio back. Especially given that Del Rio wasn’t exactly hot when he left. I can’t say I’m any more interested in Raw because Del Rio is back. And this whole Mex-America thing seems like it was hastily thrown together.

Still, I don’t think Kalisto loses much by giving up a win to Del Rio. If WWE is smart they’ll start capitalizing on this dynamic talent. At the very least, can we give the Lucha Dragons a tag title shot?

In Other News:

Jay Lethal, Ring of HonorRing of Honor leaving Destination America, will air on COMET in December. ROH must have a better deal with COMET than they had with Destination America. COMET can’t be that much easier to find than DA. Still, kudos to ROH for making more waves (even if they’re small ones) in the television market. Frankly, I’m glad they’re off Destination America. I got a shady vibe from that whole crew after what happened with TNA. Speaking of which, how does this effect TNA, if at all?

Image 5 from rollingstone.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Ring of Honor and Destination America, Plus, Ponderings From WWE Raw

Ring of Honor, Destination AmericaBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Destination America announces TV deal with Ring of Honor. Show will air prior to TNA’s Impact Wrestling. To say the very least, the news of Ring of Honor airing on Destination America was a shock.

I equate this to TNT announcing that an ECW show would air prior to WCW Monday Nitro. (Obviously that’s a stretch, but you get the idea.) It puts TNA in an extremely awkward position, and doesn’t do anything to dispell the rumors that Impact is being pulled in September. Apparently the TNA talent roster weren’t told anything prior to the announcement, which makes me wonder how much even Dixie Carter and the TNA management team knew.

For wrestling fans who get Destination America, this is great news. But for fans like me who don’t get the network, it’s not so great. I don’t necessarily see this as a huge step up for ROH, considering so many areas still can’t see them. When this announcement was made, I actually tweeted: “So Ring of Honor is going to be on too? Great. This should get them…nothing. Enjoy obscurity, guys!”

TNA Impact Wrestling, Destination AmericaIn retrospect, that’s obviously pretty harsh. Any TV exposure for a wrestling company is good news for wrestling fans. Congrats to Ring of Honor. Take this opportunity and make the most of it!

Thoughts From Raw:

After Elimination Chamber victory, Kevin Owens comes face-to-face with John Cena. So much for Owens’ tenure on Raw being strictly a WWE Network tie-in for Elimination Chamber. If WWE is smart (which depends on what week it is), they’ll keep this guy around. He and Cena have good chemistry, and I’d be happy to see these two take this all the way to Battleground in July.

I think the reason Owens is such a hot commodity right now is because there’s nobody else like him on either the main roster or NXT. He’s got a different look, a different promo style, and a fairly unique presentation. And of course, his wrestling is more than up to snuff. In that sense, he makes for very compelling television.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Kevin OwensAs for this segment, this whole “my son likes John Cena” thing is good enough to take them to Money in the Bank, which, God help us, is less than two weeks away. As Owens got the clean win this week, I expect Cena to get a clean win at Money in the Bank, followed by a rubber match at Battleground.

Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, and Neville announced for Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Kofi Kingston being in this match is actually pretty funny. From an in-story perspective, there’s no reason for him to be there. It’s almost an exposure of WWE’s booking team. They need guys in there who can do high-flying moves with ladders, and Kofi’s a proven commodity in that respect. But when you see that graphic of all six guys in the match, and Kofi’s standing there with a tag title belt, there’s an awkwardness there.

Supposedly more guys are going to be added to this match. I imagine we won’t get more than 8. It might be interesting to see Bray Wyatt involved in a match like this, especially as he’s supposedly in line for a babyface turn. But as for who will win…

WWE Money in the Bank 2015, early ladder match graphicRoman Reigns pulls a 3-peat on Raw, defending his Money in the Bank Ladder Match spot. As Reigns wasn’t in a match at Elimination Chamber, it was a good move to emphasize him on Raw. The San Antonio crowd seemed to be into him, which is nice to see. Hopefully the respect factor is starting to set in, and fans are realizing they changed the course of this guy’s career at Wrestlemania. That’s not to say he deserved the win. But he took the loss in stride.

Hopefully Reigns pulling a 3-peat against King Barrett, Mark Henry, and Bray Wyatt adds to that respect element. They weren’t all fantastic matches, but they guy still put in a long night, to say the least.

Dean Ambrose steals WWE Title from Seth Rollins after being screwed at Money in the Bank. Didn’t they just do this story with Ambrose and the Intercontinental Title during Wrestlemania season? It was an eye-roller for me. Still, it’s nice to see Ambrose walking around with the title. Makes you think a championship win isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Dean Ambrose, Naturally, they’re wrestling again at Money in the Bank, and naturally, it’s a ladder match. Since the ladder match at Wrestlemania, I’m officially of the mindset that WWE does too many ladder matches. They’ve lost their value. They have two pay per views (Money in the Bank and TLC) centered around the damn match. If they absolutely have to have those, then they need to remove all other ladder matches from the calendar year. What’s the point of even having a ladder match if it’s not special anymore?

Ryback wins Intercontinental Title in Elimination Chamber match. This was a big surprise. I’m not sure what this means as far as WWE wanting to make the Intercontinental Title the “worker’s title” again. Considering Ryback is apparently going to defend against The Big Show soon, things aren’t looking good in that respect. But Ryback’s passion is evident when he’s on television every week. So seeing him win the belt has some sentimental value at the very least.

The New Day retain at Elimination Chamber, will likely defend against The Prime Time Players at Money in the Bank. First and foremost, how hot did Titus O’Neil look when he got the hot tag on Raw? That’s a fire I’ve never seen out of him before. Awesome work.

WWE Raw, June 1, 2015, The New DayAs unlikely as it seemed when this act started, The New Day is are now one of the hottest things on Raw, for my money. They’re doing some cool mic work. As much as I’d like to see Titus O’Neil and Darren Young get the win and the titles, I don’t think The New Day is done with them yet. Give ’em until Summerslam at the earliest.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of destinationamerica.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Samoa Joe’s Debut, TNA’s Troubles, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

A few things to get to before we talk about Raw

Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, NXT TakeoverSamoa Joe appears at NXT Takeover. Samoa Joe in a WWE ring. I honestly never thought I’d see the day. Not because Joe doesn’t have the talent, but because he clearly doesn’t fit the traditional WWE musclehead mold. The fact that he was signed speaks volumes about the way WWE recruits talent now as opposed to, say, five years ago. He even got to keep his name! He wasn’t renamed or repackaged, which probably has something to do with the nature of the deal he signed. Joe still has some indy dates booked, so perhaps he’ll be repackaged if/when he becomes exclusive to WWE.

If Joe does indeed have a run with NXT, I don’t doubt he’ll be successful. Judging by how quickly Kevin Owens became NXT Champion, it’s not at all unreasonable to imagine similar success for Joe. My question is, how successful would Joe be on the main roster, with Vince McMahon micromanaging his every move? His matches would be good, of course. But would Vince brush him off because of his body type? Actually, I imagine the same question could be posed about Kevin Owens.

Either way, Joe’s arrival in NXT was a huge moment. So many fans, myself included, thought it simply wasn’t in the cards. Congratulations, Joe. You deserve it.

TNA, Destination AmericaDave Meltzer reports that Destination America is planning to cancel all TNA programming affective this September. Lots of controversy over this one, and rightfully so. Supposedly, TNA hasn’t delivered ratings high enough to justify the production costs, and most of Destination America’s advertisers want nothing to do with TNA.

Neither TNA President Dixie Carter, nor Destination America have made any sort of statements regarding potential cancellations, most likely because things haven’t been finalized. Thus, theoretically, TNA could stay on the network if plans change.

This story is just sad. After all that drama last year about TNA finding a new network, this happens. One might even argue that being on Destination America was a detriment to TNA from the start. So many fans simply don’t have access to it. I’m one of those fans, and as such I haven’t seen a new episode of Impact since they left Spike. And just when they’d finally cut ties with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and the show was becoming watchable again.

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, TNAIncidentally, Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey, and Garrett Bischoff suing TNA for unpaid wages certainly isn’t going to help matters.

I want to have hope for TNA. I really do. But things just keep piling on…

Hulk Hogan says he may play a villain in The Expendables 4. I don’t buy it. Not as the main villain, anyway. His contributions to wrestling notwithstanding, Hogan is a notorious liar and BS’er. I’ll believe it when I hear it from someone other than him.

Thoughts From Raw:

Zack Ryder accepts John Cena’s open challenge in his hometown of Long Island. This almost felt like justice for Zack Ryder. This poor guy got buried by the system simply because he got himself over. But at least he got to have a career moment tonight with John Cena. Not that it will matter in the long run, of course. Much like Stardust did, he’ll go right back to jobbing next week. But kudos to Ryder, Cena, and WWE for giving Long Island something special.

As for the cast of  Entourage…meh, whatever. I find it funny that they made a tron video that specifically said “The Cast of Entourage.” I’m just happy we didn’t have to see Jeremy Piven on Raw again. I admired his enthusiasm when he was a guest host. But I still cringe when I think of that “Summerfest” flub.

Dean Ambrose, Raw, May 26, 2015The Authority, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns open and close the show. I fast-forwarded through the first 13 minutes of Raw, simply because I’ve seen this promo time after time, week after week. I pressed play when Dean Ambrose came out, but fast-forwarded again when he didn’t say anything interesting. Ditto for the lead-in to the tag match. I’m begging them to change up the format here.

Ambrose being arrested, taken to jail, and then returning in a police van (I’m not calling it a paddy wagon…) was pretty Stone Cold-esque. But oddly enough, having Ambrose actually wear the police hat and jacket put a pretty cool spin on it. It made it amusing in a way that’s very synonymous with the “Lunatic Fringe” character.

Roman Reigns was a decent supporting player here, but it’s curious that he isn’t involved in Elimination Chamber at all. Isn’t he supposed to be one of their big stars on the rise? I don’t get it.

Lana, Rusev, Raw, May 25, 2015Rusev calls Lana to the ring for an attempt at reconciliation. Jeez, this was a long segment. Rusev’s acting skills have improved immensely since we first saw him, and I suppose he did alright here. But it was ill advised to have him carry an entire talking segment based on things like love, emotional manipulation, etc. I’m wondering if they’ll wind up putting them back together at Elimination Chamber, pulling the ol’ swerve on Dolph Ziggler. Lana and Rusev’s involvement in Ziggler’s match with Sheamus did nothing to dissuade that.

Neville def. Stardust, will face Bo Dallas at Elimination Chamber. This match with Neville is a huge opportunity for Dallas to prove he can be a relevant commodity on the WWE roster. Because let’s be honest: Right now he’s not.

On the subject of relevance, I’m happy he got to interact with Stephen Amell at ringside, as that at least gave him something to do. But he’s worth so much more. The crowds still chant “Cody!” at him, so clearly he’s still over. This seems like another case of WWE not knowing what to do with a character, so a talent goes to waste.

The New Day, Raw, May 25, 2015The New Day compete in a 10-on-3 handicap match. So the idea of a match like this is to make the audience happy that The New Day are getting beat up. I understand that. I just don’t think it’s a good idea. As a fan, it makes me feel sympathy for the guys I’m supposed to dislike. Yes, they walked away with the win. But at least they walked away! They were essentially booked in a mugging! I expect they’ll walk out of Elimination Chamber with the belts as well.

Tamina Snuka def. Paige. It would have been nice to have heard the commentary for this match. But as always, the Bellas at the announce table means instant mute button.

Images 1, 4, 5, and 6 from WWE.com. Image 2 from impactwrestling.com. Image 3 from prowrestling24.com.

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Billy Corgan, Roman Reigns vs. Big Show, and Other Mid-Week Wrestling Ponderings

Billy CorganBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan joins TNA as a “Senior Producer.” Yet another baffling choice made by the higher-ups in TNA. Corgan may be a star in the music industry, but what sort of track record does he have that merits him being brought into the creative end of a wrestling company? Yes, he’s been involved in some indie promotions, and is apparently a life-long fan. That’s great. But why would TNA invest in him of all people? What great success of Corgan’s can we point to and say, “He made that happen. Imagine what he could do for TNA!” Is he going to produce an A&E reality show about Impact that gets scrapped and never airs?

This just seems like yet another attempt by TNA to hitch their wagon to a star and grab headlines in a feeble attempt to seem relevant. I have no desire to see TNA fail, nor should any wrestling fan in their right mind. But Billy Corgan? Come on…

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, TNAI hate to beat a dead horse here, but it bears repeating. To me, TNA sold its soul in 2009 and 2010 when they brought in Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and that whole crew. If you look back at the company between 2004 and that early 2009 period, there was no shortage of established stars (Jeff Jarrett, Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, etc.). But TNA was also the place you’d see these newer, fresh talents like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, James Storm, Robert (now Bobby) Roode, etc. You could also see some of the best women’s wrestling in the United States. The creative wasn’t fantastic, but the performances of these awesome wrestlers were sufficient to put eyes on the product. TNA, despite its flaws, was a cool place to be.

But Dixie Carter and the TNA higher ups were seemingly so fixated on reaching WWE’s level of popularity that they sold their soul in a feeble attempt to re-create the Monday Night Wars and boost ratings. Guys like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Eric Bischoff wound up drawing attention away from the new stars, which left us with an awkwardly focused product.

TNA, Destination AmericaAnd now, five years later, where are they? TNA’s deal with Spike is gone, and many fans now have to fight to even find them on Destination America. Hogan, Bischoff, and Flair are all gone, as are many of the talents that helped build the company in the first place. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Joe, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne. Gone, gone, all gone.

That’s not to say TNA is incapable of producing good television. In fact, during their last several weeks on Spike, and thus far on Destination America, they’ve produced some pretty good shows. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. But God knows it’s better than most of what they’ve been giving us over the last five years.

As for Corgan, I’ll now direct you to an interview he did with Josh Matthews (via Skype) a few days ago…

Whether Corgan is this creative genius or not, people need to remember that one person can’t single-handedly change the course of a wrestling promotion. As an organization, you’ve got to have a a vision and a direction you want to go in, and you’ve got to have talents on and off camera that can put make that vision a reality. One man isn’t going to change that, no matter how many records he’s sold…

WWE Extreme Rules 2015, The Big Show, Roman ReignsRoman Reigns and The Big Show earn praise for their Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules. After hearing all the buzz about this match, I went back and re-watched it on the WWE Network. It was easily the best match the two have ever had, which granted isn’t saying much. At times it was, as expected, slow. But the psychology early on was interesting, with Show drawing heat from the crowd by breaking all the weapons. Also, I’ll always give credit to show for taking a lot of big bumps that he really doesn’t have to. Reigns throwing him off the top rope to the canvas was one example. But think about all the superplexes he’s taken over the years.

We got to see some nice stuff from Roman Reigns here. He had some nice ferocity with those hose chair shots he gave to Show, and of course, that spear through the table. Plus, hopefully that bump through the table got him some respect from the smarks.

All in all, it was a good match. Not a classic by any means, but a much better match than what I expected from those two.

Mick FoleyMick Foley’s Cheap Pops special airs on the WWE Network. The network seems to be hitting its stride these days. Specials like this one, the Chris Jericho interviews, and Renee Young’s new Unfiltered series are enough to keep me subscribed for at least another month.

Foley is such a great wordsmith. Even though he’s not really doing stand-up comedy anymore, when you put a mic in his hands he always manages to be entertaining. I’d certainly be open to another Foley special. Heck, with talents like Jim Ross and Shawn Michaels doing one-man shows of sorts, I’d say give them the platform as well. This is the sort of thing devout wrestling fans want to see, and will keep people watching the network.

Image 1 from riffyou.com. Image 2 from wrestlingforum.com. Image 3 from miamiherald.com. Images 4 and 5 from wwe.com.

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